Arsenal won a narrow 1-0 victory over Wigan Athletic in the early kick-off to give their faltering campaign a boost.
Wigan have proved something of a bogey team for Arsenal over recent years, and the Latics started the match brightly with their odd 3-4-3-cum-4-4-2 formation, partly imposed on them due to a swathe of defensive injuries, allowed the team to press and keep possession well in the early stages. James McCarthy had been down to start the game as a sweeper, although he spent most of his time in midfield.
Arouna Kone enjoyed one of the best chances of the game relatively early as he broke free thanks to some dangerous counter-attacking from Wigan, but with Franco di Santo and Shaun Maloney providing better options, he blazed wildly into the stands with the Arsenal defence in disarray.
Wigan's poor decision-making in the final third was to become a feature of the game, along with some appalling crossing from Jean Beausejou and Ronnie Stam - the home side only had themselves to blame as they continually got themselves into excellent positions before wasting them.
Franco Di Santo appeared to be in fine form for Wigan, continually coming deep and showing excellent awareness and control to help build Wigan's attacks, but unfortunately the same could not be said of his strike partner - after wasting the earlier chance, Koné fluffed another as he was sent clean through as he breezed past Per Mertesacker, but scuffed a shot wide when one-on-one with Szczesny.
Wigan probabaly edged the first half, with Theo Walcott struggling to get into the game in his role as striker, but they went in at half-time with nothing to show for it. They were soon to regret that as Arsenal regrouped in the break and came out far stronger. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain set up Theo Walcott who should've put the Gunners in the lead early in the second half, but Ali Al-Habsi made a fine save.
Wigan were at fault for their own profligacy in front of goal, and they ended up being responsible for giving up a goal at the other end too, the out-of-sorts Beasejour clumsily challenging Walcott in the area. Mikel Arteta stepped up to take the penalty, and duly sent Al-Habsi the wrong way from the spot to put the Gunners into a 1-0 lead.
There was an odd moment to follow as Franco Di Santo was forced to stay off the pitch for a few minutes after it was discovered he was still wearing an earring, but despite his short absence from the pitch, Wigan continued to press for an equaliser. Beasejour had the best chance, getting clear down the left channel, but he fired over with a half-cross-half-shot that really needed to be one or the other.
Late on, Arsenal could barely get the ball out of their own half, and Wigan were hugely unfortunate to be denied two hand-ball shouts in the Arsenal box, the latter a clear flagration by Kieran Gibbs, who raised his arms to deflect a Jordi Gomez effort.
In the end, Arsenal managed to ride their luck and escape with all three points, but it had the resemblance of a smash-and-grab victory. The win will be a great relief to Arsenal supporters, but the performance will not. The opposite is true of Wigan, who were largely excellent but their performance was also characteristically error-strewn - the reason they are in a relegation battle.